Heathrow expansion delays could make the UK a “laughing stock around the world”, particularly in the wake of the EU referendum, the National Infrastructure Commission told MPs.
NIC deputy chair Sir John Armitt said the delays were a “political failure” and “the clearest way the government could say we are not open to the world” at a Treasury Select Committee meeting.
He said: “Heathrow is very clearly the most sensible place to do it. The longer we delay the more we frankly are just a laughing stock around the world and certainly we will not be prepared post-Brexit to play our part.
“If we want to show we are open to the world this is the clearest way the Government could say we are not open to the world.”
NIC chairman Lord Adonis told the committee discussing the work of the National Infrastructure Commission that Heathrow is operating at 99% capacity and has to turn away business.
He said: “We just need to get real about this, we cannot dither for this length of time and sacrifice national welfare which is what is happening by not expanding Heathrow, we have to get on and do it.”
He compared Heathrow to other European airports and said it is losing out to competitors. Heathrow has connections to four destinations in China in comparison to nine at Amsterdam Schiphol, seven at Paris Charles de Gaulle and five at Frankfurt.
Adonis added: “That international connectivity that we’re losing from the UK is not, unfortunately, going to Gatwick, or Manchester or Edinburgh.
“It is going to Schiphol, to Frankfurt, to Charles de Gaulle who are getting connectivity with emerging markets that we’re not.”
Last month Adonis said the delays were ”perhaps the most serious infrastructure failure of all” as the NIC launched it’s first national assessment ahead of the final report which will be published next year.